The trip hazards
Monday January 16th 2023, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Life

Okay, more details now that I’m not typing at midnight: the niece whose Texas wedding we missed to the Southwest meltdown? She had a second reception in Utah on Saturday so we rebooked for that–which meant getting to spend time with my mom, too, which was so great. When we flew in Friday evening we had DoorDash deliver Indian food to her house, and my brother and his daughter and our sister and her husband and our youngest joined us at Mom’s for our own mini-reunion.

Traveling tip: if you order a big restaurant meal in another state hours before you arrive in that state, call your credit card company before their fraud unit calls your land line so you can tell them yes it’s legit. Thank you Discover for calling quickly and unfreezing us before we left for the airport.

Last night on our return, there were no direct flights so we came via Vegas. There was a guy in that airport where I thought, I hope you’re not on our flight. He was, along with three family members, but they were not the first but the second family to loudly harangue the crew starting with the gate agent.

A woman we’d seen walking around just fine suddenly developed a profound limp and demanded to pre-board. The agent had seen her, and had the backup of you’re supposed to say when you book your flight if you need assistance, so she got told, nicely, no–your place in line is this number and that’s where you need to go.

That mom was angry and she let everybody know it, including telling the flight attendant once she finally got on all about how she’d been wrongfully denied and how terrible that agent was. The kicker is that she and her young son got second row seats anyway and could have spared herself the embarrassment of her ongoing public tantrum.

Richard expressed empathy quietly to the agent, who was grateful for it.

The woman’s limp magically entirely disappeared after the flight.

But that was nothing compared to the next group.

While she was still in line inside the terminal, as an antidote to what I didn’t know was only the start of it all, I figured our trip was pretty much over and it was time to put the rest of the finger puppets to use with no further need to save any. I pulled out some pretty ones and the first two flight attendants we saw, a young African-American man and a young, petite African American woman, were just so taken with them. For crying babies, I said, and as they asked if I’d made them I told them they were from Peru: the women can put food on the table, kids get happy, everybody wins.

It was clear they were both wishing for one of their own as they held them so I added, And they’re for you, too! Any ones you want. A handful more puppets came out to make sure they had enough.

So that started our time together on a joyful note, with Richard passing the little wearable animals over from me, and I said to him on the drive home, They’re good people anyway but that probably set the tone and helped them through what was about to happen.

He thought that was probably so.

I’ve never been so grateful for TSA screening. We were delayed by storms in the South but then by that angry guy. And his wife. And his mom. And their kid. During boarding he was yelling at the back of the plane loud enough for ME to hear at the front row and I would have said that wasn’t possible. But it was. And he went on and on and on and on and on and on and ON and on. Does the man ever breathe? Then his mom wouldn’t board–I have no idea what her problem was, but she finally got on. His kid (about six?) yelled for awhile, too, because that seemed the thing to do. His wife at the last was visibly shaking her body with rage in view of my window as she screamed at the plane’s door. At length.

Only able to guess at what her problem was, I thought, Lady. This is Southwest. You arrive late and there’s only one seat left on the full flight, that’s your seat. Nobody has done you wrong. But you guys don’t threaten the crew and you don’t scream at them.

The young flight attendant with the beautiful long braids was soothing, kind, wise beyond her years, in no way backed down, and at the last said, Thank you for your time, ma’am, with so much emotional honesty to the improbable words that it reminded me of when I was being calm with my teenagers: you love them and you see they’re acting that way because they’re in pain and you try to meet them where they are while still saying the rules hold. If our hero was religious, she fully lived by the Love she believes in.

She asked if anyone would like to move for this family, and boy howdy people did because nobody wanted to sit by any of them if they didn’t have to.

I have to add to last night’s remarks that Richard was every bit as much if not more of a support to her and the others as I was. Even if I’m the one who got the hug. He asked her later, Do you have to put up with drama like that often?

Her whole body did a Phew! at the question and then she laughed and said, No! 421 flights and that’s never happened before!

And yet she’d handled it like an old pro and I thought, Every police department in the country should hire you to teach them de-escalation techniques.

All of those people actually eventually sat down and shut up after she was done. I’m sure the male attendant at the back dealing with the dad was handling it just as well.

I wondered afterwards if that second family was, in effect, Westboro reincarnated: trying to anger the workers so they could sue Southwest when they kicked them off–it’s the only thing that made sense.

Nothing was going to be served during the flight, the pilot announced after we finally started pulling away from the gate about an hour late: there would be too much turbulence.

He didn’t say, and half of it has been human. It was definitely one way to keep drinks away from those guys without making the attendants have to take any more flak that would surely come with the denial. That pilot was brilliant.

We did in fact have enough of a rollercoaster starting a little while into the ride that the pilots were too busy to remember to turn off the bathroom sign. Whee! Yeah, we stayed buckled.

So. We finally land. The lights come on, people get up to get their stuff, it’s quite late.

You know how they drive the outside walkway over to the plane’s door and the little canvas-looking accordion overhead stretches out its cover?

The first eight or ten times, the gate agent at the controls approached, stopped, backed up, considered, tried, missed, backed up, again and again, till the pilot came on and chuckled, She’s new; she started in January.

This, of course, was January 15.

She tried a bunch more times and none of it was done quickly. We could see her calling someone. We could see her hands gesturing in frustration and embarrassment as she could see us seeing her. She tried again. Way off. No. On the phone again, and you could imagine the words to go with the pleading face and motions: Can’t someone come?! Has everybody gone home for the night?!

Our intrepid attendant got on the mic and said, Anybody want to hop down from the plane and help her out? We’ve been on the job for eleven and a half hours and we would like to go to bed.

The whole plane laughed with her because she was laughing and a little comic relief is always a good thing.

It had been a good ten minutes at this point. The pilot asked everybody to sit back down. We did. Then he moved the plane forward.

She considered the angle. No, no, that was worse.

Okay. He backed the plane up and angled it sideways towards that walkway as he did so, and this time, she cruised right forward. Nailed it. She connected us up, we had a cover out of the hard rain and we had our walkway, and there you go.

The poor woman was back inside at the gate and had to watch all of us go past her and we all smiled a hello of, that’s okay and an everybody’s new at a job once, we get it (it wasn’t just me by any means.)

We followed the emotional lead of our wonderful attendants and pilot, who’d repeatedly made everything all right in spite of it all.

Richard and I got home wired and tired and way past our bedtime in both time zones. I told him my body didn’t want to sleep but I was going to boss it around and tell it too bad, and with that he gave up the day to its ghosts along with me and that was that.

She was a saint
Monday January 16th 2023, 12:51 am
Filed under: Life

I’ve never seen such behavior in an airport before, much less on a plane. They should have been thrown out and criminally charged with interfering with a flight crew, but I guess Southwest is trying really hard to rebuild customer relations. But these people did not deserve how well they were treated in response to their aggressions.

That flight attendant–

–well, there’s an old Washington DC saying that the definition of a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

So much went so wrong. She handled it so well. I told her that and thanked her.

Never before has a flight attendant given me a hug as I was getting off the plane.

Next! Something bright, anything bright
Thursday January 12th 2023, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Knit

Turns out sixteen wasn’t the magic number either.

But as that seventeenth repeat was coming along, I laid the afghan out on the floor to see.

At long last, yes. Proportionately width to height, that was it, just right. And it’s about as tall as I am, also just right.

And went to bed without those last four rows and the cast off because there are only so many hours in the day.

I like lavender. The mill oils that are about to be washed out gray this one for now but I know how it will look. The yarn will brighten and bloom and fill out and look more solid. I know the recipient’s going to love it, I know the last recipient I used that yarn for nearly burst into tears when she saw the finished work in her hands. The two of them are cousins and they can think of each other with their matching afghans (different patterns).

Today was a busy and happily preoccupied day and I could have kept going with all that but after dinner it hit me: You are not coming back in that front door again without that afghan being finished. Over with. Out of your hair and away from your procrastination. You are not. Sit your posterior down on that couch Right Now. Do it. NOW.

Sometimes a good talking-to is just the thing.

I just put the size 9s away, the afghan in the tote, finally got the camera to be honest about the mill oils, and zipped the bag up.

It will look so good after the hot wash to come.

Someone yell at me to run that final end in, though, will ya? Never mind, I’ll do it myself.

Whiteboards and floods
Wednesday January 11th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Katie Porter is running for Senate ’24! I’ll finally get to vote for her!

Meantime, I had to make a quick run to the post office: please keep my mail out of the rain and all that.

I pulled off the road at a small gravel turnoff by the bike path along the marsh looking over towards the Bay, because I had never seen water in most of this. See that dark wooden fence in the foreground there? (Click for a bigger view.) The bottom of it is underwater. One might not want to go birding down that trail today.


A bridge too far gone
Tuesday January 10th 2023, 8:24 pm
Filed under: History

This very old bridge is scheduled to be replaced at long last and if you watch the Twitter video it’s obvious why.

I like how it looks like alligator jaws opening wide: Gotcha! (Man, that takes serious skills.)

Sweet 16
Monday January 09th 2023, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

Yesterday during my knitting group Zoom I happily announced that I had just finished the 15th repeat on my afghan, which I’d been aiming for for a long time.

But you know what? Yes it’s not blocked, yes it will stretch out, but it still was just plain too short no matter how much I didn’t want it to be and I refuse to be disappointed by the darn thing after putting multiple months into it. So today I overdid it while trying (or I told myself I was trying) not to overdo it.

Which means the 16th is now done, minus the purl row afterwards. Pass the icepacks.

Well, but, huh. You know, one more repeat there would really polish that off nicely. The recipients are taller than me.

p.s. We got 2.3″ rain over the last 24+ hours with .91″ to go tonight and an evacuation warning in the south end of the county, but the forecast now is in quarters and halves rather than in whole inches–each of which would normally be a lot but right now feels like quite a break. While still adding to the reservoirs.

p.p.s. For whatever it’s worth: handbeaded gerdans on the delicate side in appearance that are $13.75 as I type. Which to me sounds like a cry to the world out there for help, because the last time I saw a seller in Ukraine cut prices that drastically it was as things were falling apart around her hard, and I will forever be grateful for the gorgeous beadwork she’d already done for me and the conversations we’d had. Her shop is gone now and I have no idea how to find out if she’s alright.

The night is young
Sunday January 08th 2023, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

Well, that’s a no-frills pruning job. (Listening to the gusts of water coming down.)

Saturday January 07th 2023, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Life

The forecast was .82″ at noon, then five hours later as it actually finally started to come down they changed it to 1.73″.

Meantime, someone had backed into a fire hydrant in Sunnyvale and an old Purlescence friend took video of the resulting geyser and flooded street.

My reaction was, the sky took one look at that and went, You think that’s something? Here–hold my water.

Last appointment of the day
Friday January 06th 2023, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Life

One of the enduring artifacts of the pandemic is how visible it made the handiwork of all the unsung hair stylists out there while so many salons were closed. All that long hair out there. The number of women, here, anyway, who’ve kept it that way since.

By the way, the DIY youtube video that says to turn your head over, brush your hair straight, put in a ponytail holder and lop the ends off below there and it will come out perfectly layered towards the bottom? Don’t do it. Just don’t. Don’t ask me how I know.

Part it down the middle front to back, pull it to the front under your chin and hold, snip across. Much better. I don’t know how well that would work on straight hair but curls are forgiving.

But I wanted it done right. My hair was going to be in pictures forevermore, and that’s incentive enough to brave the scissors of someone new. Both the distance and, as I discovered, the politics of the woman I’d previously gone to…let’s just say the distance.

I found a place about a mile away.

It was a great feeling to come out of that chair feeling like this woman had done exactly what I’d hoped for–and, given that I have some older salon stories that could curl your hair, it was such a relief.

Except for one small thing.

I don’t know what that product was, but I’d forgotten to ask for nothing scented.

He squirmed a bit. He didn’t want to say it outright. So I said it for him: It stinks.

Yes, (emphatically), it definitely does. (Heard but not said: It is entirely messing with this dinner, honey.)

Now pardon me while I go wash my hair.

Thursday January 05th 2023, 10:51 pm
Filed under: History

I can’t imagine believing all your life that your father had never learned to read or write and only finding out ten years after his death that he most certainly did. In a system going back to the 10th century.

I remember reading a profile of Richard Nixon years ago where he justified his intense racism by saying, All those people in Africa and across all of history they never even came up with a written language? They never kept records?

But they did.

Ajami, a modified Arabic, was never taught in school by the colonialists nor acknowledged.

With help from my friend Lise, I stumbled across this very cool story from my late father’s alma mater.

Man is it coming down
Wednesday January 04th 2023, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit

An inch so far today, with two more by tomorrow night. And the wind!

Friends a few cities over have lost power. We haven’t so far, but it did have me deciding dinner was going to be some of the more expensive food in the freezer: it should be enjoyed, not worried over.

And so the stuffed chicken breasts are in the oven and the thought occurred to me that if the lights go out now, what would we do.

That little creme brûlée torch that was his favorite Christmas gift a few years ago. Can you cook chicken parts with it? Here, let’s just pry open that center there with a fork and melt that cheese… That would work. Right?

(Update 9:00 pm: It sounds like a large branch of a tree is being dragged across the roof by the wind, resting a second, gusting and dragging almost right away again. It is loud out there. And I am not used to hearing much of anything as being loud.)

Got the car all done
Tuesday January 03rd 2023, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Should I take the unwieldy afghan that would get on the floor of the garage?

That’s a question I can’t answer, he responded, reasonably.

So, I finally decided, I guess the boring usual, then. Lucky me, there was one skein of Mecha that was already wound up. A dark teal green.

Which got me thinking.

I don’t spend a lot of time in waiting rooms these days, but sometimes, and so somehow I did, I had three plain Malabrigo beanies sitting waiting to find out whose they were supposed to be.

I checked their website. The three of them had been running the garage since the original guy who’d opened it in 1952.

It’s not in walking distance and I had no ride so I was just going to sit and wait while they worked on the car. I could call Enterprise Car Rental if it came to that; they pick you up.

Oh–are you waiting? she asked me. (For so long they didn’t let you; now they’ll let one person under the relaxed covid protocols.)

They got right to it, then.

I pulled out my needles and cast on.

I did the nine rows of ribbing on the usual 70 stitches of Mecha.

Someone else popped in to give his key and say his car was here.

I kept knitting.

I did some of the solid area above the brim, and at about 90 minutes in the mechanic stepped into the office area, glanced over at my knitting a moment, and said my car was done.

And then he shook his head with her a moment talking about the 24 year old Buffalo Bills football player who’d dropped on the field in cardiac arrest–so young, so young. In the ICU. But it was like that basketball player, he said.

Len Bias, I piped up to his surprise.

Either there were two basketball players or he didn’t remember that name; it’s been a long time.

He went back to work on the next car.

Len Bias was in Maryland, I told her, and I’m from Maryland.

Ah, she said, and rang up my bill.

While wearing a shirt and jacket in the very colors of the feminine one of those hats. The other two were in Vaa and Solis, darker green on the gray side and the other a bit brighter. I was knitting teal green. I was wearing two layers of green sweaters. Tuesday’s for the color green, today.

Two guys back there? I asked, just to confirm.

Two guys back there, she confirmed.

Having waited for my bill to be finished so it couldn’t affect it in any way, I pulled out the three hats and thanked her very much.

She’d just seen me making one of those. She instantly knew I’d made those. Her jaw dropped, and then she hurried to go share as I waved goodbye and headed out the door without even asking if they liked green.

The guy who’d worked on my car hurried out the big garage door to catch a glimpse in time but I was on my way.

I drove off feeling like, where have I been? Man, that felt good. Do it some more. You’ve got some catching up to do, hon.

Sungold, Black Krim, Mortage Lifter
Monday January 02nd 2023, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

So the neighborhood didn’t blow up. Suddenly that last tomato variety’s name up there has a different twinge to it… Thank you, firefighters.

The blue lines in the forecast continue: 5.95″ still to come between now and next Wednesday and it looks like it’ll keep going after that. This Wednesday and next Monday look to be like the big day we just had. Stay home.

Shasta, the biggest reservoir, is still only at 57% of normal and 34% full. Etc. But day by day we’re getting there.

As it was pouring down today, I opened my new Burpee catalog–now that it’s had a few days to dry out so you can turn the pages, and then I ordered visions of Spring.

I always think I should plant marigolds to protect my tomatoes from the squirrels, since they hate the smell of them, but I never do. With our overhangs, I don’t have bright window space for much and then it always feels like too late for a round two of starts.

20% off? (Enter code BSC23 till 6/30/23) A new color variant that I like? Strawberry Blonde. I ordered the plants, which I never have before, and I don’t care how small the marigold seedlings turn out to be when they get here: they’ll be actual plants, not wishes. This year those tomatoes are mine!

And I bought sunflower seeds. Their new Creme Brûlée. I mean, sunflowers this year of all years, yes, not to mention that with a name and look like that how could one not. Slightly burnt-looking stamens on the back catalog cover, reminiscent of what the Ukrainians have endured, but deeply satisfying to the eye, the heart, the birds: gorgeous flowers, absolutely gorgeous.

And, yes, the squirrels will be thrilled. Let’s see if I can get them to grow on the far side of the house from the rest.


Update: I just got a notification that a major tree is down and blocking one of the more problematical creeks. That’s an emergency, and the mayor of the next town (not sure if it fell to or from their side) is on it.

Sudden turn
Sunday January 01st 2023, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Life

Anne was right, of course: it was the section of 101 that goes around the airport and just north of it that flooded, the stretch where it offers a beautiful view across the Bay, where you can see the ships lined up for the Port of Oakland–and where, two weeks ago, I was thinking as we drove that stretch that it would be the first thing to go when the waters rise in the coming years.

Meantime, I did some serious progress on the stalled afghan, and being that close to done makes me want to finish it. It feels good to have that motivation back.

Richard was out taking a walk while I was typing that and came in saying there was a massive smell of gas in the next block, he’d put in a call to the city’s utilities department, and the fire truck had arrived before he even made it up the block.

Okay, the night just got a little more exciting. (The blog timestamp’s off, it’s 10pm.) Well, huh. We’ve got a reverse-911 system here if they decide they want us all out of here, but I’m not expecting it.